The Preserve, citing liability concerns, closes roads to bicyclists
June 18, 2013
The Preserve last weekend instituted a ban on outside bicyclists on roads in the Snyderville Basin development, indicating that liability worries of property owners were the overriding factor in the decision.
The ban was announced in a statement from the board of trustees of The Preserve homeowners association. The developer of The Preserve, Kirk MacDonald, said the decision was made by the board of trustees rather than himself. There are approximately 10 miles of roads that are affected. The roads are private, but bicyclists had been allowed to ride there.
The statement from the board of trustees indicated that approximately 11 houses will be under construction and "unfortunately the liability risks simply are unacceptable." The Preserve is worried about an accident involving a bicyclist and heavy machinery or vehicles.
"After consulting with our insurer and legal counsel it became evident that this closure is required to provide adequate liability protection for the property owners within The Preserve," the statement said.
The unpaved trails in The Preserve remain open. The statement said The Preserve does not have the same liability on the trails as it does on roads. The Preserve offers 12 miles of unpaved trails, saying the mileage is greater than other gated developments in the Park City area.
Bicyclists who pedaled on the roads in The Preserve have said the development is an attractive place to ride, citing the low traffic and stretches of uphill and downhill roads. The Preserve was a rare example in the Park City area of a development allowing outside cyclists on private roads.
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The ban was instituted less than a month after The Preserve announced plans for a prohibition of bicyclists like the one that is now in place. Road bicyclists rallied for continued access, organizing a ride from Kimball Junction to The Preserve, and the developer did not put a ban in place as first intended. It had been scheduled to start on May 28.
MacDonald addressed the group of upward of 40 bicyclists in late May before they left for The Preserve, saying that he had received 85 e-mails addressing a ban. He said he learned that elite athletes were riding roads in The Preserve and a ban would have impacted thousands of people in the area.
In his comments to the bicyclists, though, MacDonald said he needed their support "to convince my owners to let you in."
John Pfisterer, a member of the homeowners association board of trustees, said The Preserve residents and property owners requested a ban on bicyclists at a December meeting. The board of trustees unanimously voted in favor of a ban, he said.
"We don’t want anybody injured up there," Pfisterer, who plans to build a house in the development this summer, said.
People who own places in The Preserve will be allowed to continue to ride bicycles on the roads at their own risk, he said.
The Mountain Trails Foundation, an advocacy group that normally does not address road cycling, has monitored the situation at The Preserve. Charlie Sturgis, the executive director, said he hopes "some reasonable solution that continues access" is reached.